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RiSE Center Colloquium, November 15, 2010

October 29th, 2010
 

Maine Center for Research in STEM Education
Colloquia and Seminar Series

Paul Wlodkowski, Associate Professor of Engineering
Marine Systems Engineering
Graduate Faculty, UMaine
Maine Maritime Academy

Introducing Engineering Design in a Ninth Grade Physical Sciences Classroom

During the 2010-2011 academic year, the engineering design process will be introduced to ninth graders at Ellsworth High School in their Physics First classroom.  Engineering education is an effective catalyst in enhancing  understanding and developing student interest in STEM subjects, particularly due to its inate ability to move beyond the siloed teaching of individual subjects and courses.  A rocket design project, whose challenge is to predict the maximum altitude of flight, will serve as the case study.  In the course of this hands-on project, students integrate important concepts involving aerodynamic stability into their design, such as the determination and relative placement of the centers of gravity and pressure.  Furthermore, the ninth graders will be introduced to the important free body diagram tool, with which they will account for all forces of drag, weight, and thrust.  Starting with the graph of a rocket motor’s impulse, the ninth graders construct a mathematical model of flight.  The computer generated results are then compared with actual flight test measurements.  The resulting graphical overlay of the rocket’s acceleration, velocity, and displacement profiles – all functions of time – provide a critical pathway to the student’s understanding of kinematics and Newton’s Laws of Motion.  One major objective of this work will be to support the Science and Technology standards of the Maine Learning Results, as a precursor to developing and assessing K-12 engineering education standards.

Monday, November 15, 2010
3:10 p.m.
Rm. 165 ESRB (Hill Auditorium)

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